Israel tells citizens to leave Sri Lanka over 'concrete threat'

JERUSALEM – Israel on Thursday, April 25, urged its citizens travelling in Sri Lanka to leave the country, citing an "elevated concrete threat" following deadly Easter bombings there.

The recommendation from Israel's counterterrorism bureau said the travel warning was issued after consultations with security and foreign ministry officials.

It said it was issuing the warning "in view of the deterioration in the security situation and the fear that the events have not yet ended or that there is a chance of their recurrence in the near future."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered aid to Sri Lankan authorities in the wake of the attacks which saw suicide bombers blow themselves up in luxury hotels and churches packed with Easter Sunday worshippers, killing nearly 360 people

Thousands of Sri Lankan troops have joined the hunt for suspects.

Dozens of foreigners were among the victims of the blasts, including 3 children of a Danish billionaire, 8 Britons, 10 Indians and 4 Americans.

Sri Lanka's government has been on the defensive over revelations that specific warnings about an attack went ignored.

Sri Lanka's police chief warned on April 11 that suicide bombings against "prominent churches" by the local Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) were possible, citing information from a foreign intelligence agency.

Experts say the bombings bear many of the hallmarks of attacks by the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq), and the government has suggested local militants could not have acted alone.

But it has not yet officially confirmed any ISIS role in the blasts despite the group claiming responsibility. –